Leihlo likes looking up at the sky, he figures, that somewhere in that ocean blue sky and powder white clouds is where he might find his answers. Ke Mosotho (he is a Mosotho), definitely. Wut, what does that mean? Where does he fit in this puzzle called HIStory?
So he heads South where he’s heard there are stories of an oracle who lives in a cave in a place called “Lekhalong la Baroa.” There, he believes, he will finally find some answers.
It is an unusual thing for an illiterate shepherd boy to ask himself such existential questions, or so he’s been told. In his clan, the Monaheng, he has always stuck out like a sore thumb, a black sheep in a world of pure white thorough breeds.
So he chooses to keep to himself, for the most part, with only his trusty steed, as his closest companion. “Thabure” is one heck of a horse, sure, he’s seen better days, but he can still run and best all the younger horses in the village.
“Ke nako” (its time), our hero whispers into Thabure’s one good ear, the left ear, how that happened is a long story. He saddles up his horse. It’s dusk and the sun is slowly rising on the horizon, setting an almost orange-like tint as the first rays pierce through the sky. “Dawn and Dusk, two sides, of the same coin,” he thinks to himself.
What Leihlo hopes to find on this journey is vague at best, even to himself. He’s heard that this “Oracle of the South” can give his life meaning. Leihlo has always known that there should be more to life than just chasing after sheep and cattle in the morning and playing moraba-raba with the other herdboys at night.
“Help me my child!” cries out a voice in the distance. Leihlo and Thabure have been riding and walking under the unbearable hot African sun for the better part of the day, but this voice startles them, as exhausted as they both are. From where does it come from?
In the lowlands of Lesotho, nothing much grows and as such, there’s not a lot of people, as most of the arable land and grazing land is found in the highlands. Grazing land is the Basotho’s main concern, because grass feeds cows and cows equal money, quite literally.
“How can I help ‘m’e!? (Miss),” he says as he nears a solitary hut in the middle of nowhere. “Can I have something to eat my child?” the old lady asks, bent over from old age, eyes shining with wisdom, but their light dim from years of living in poverty.
“Here you go Nkhono!” Leihlo hesitates as he reaches into his bag to offer his only packet of “lipabi” (ground Millie meal). “Thank you, son of Kali,” she says, hungrily devouring his lipabi.
A long way from home, he doubts he has relatives in these parts, so how could she possibly know who his. “I am no oracle my son,” she declares, as if reading his mind. “Just a seer, looking out into what was, and what will be.”
“You, my son, son of Kali, son of Nkopane Oa Mathunya are a long way from home.” Too stunned to reason, Leihlo kept his mouth shut. “First of all, who told you that I reside in the South?” She asked, but it was more for her amusement than anything else.
“You are from the Monaheng, you have royal blood in your lineage, Kali is your forefather. Mohlomi is a relative and so is Moshoeshoe Oa Kali Lebeola. Now understand this, Kali is Monaheng, the same way that Moshoeshoe was Lepoqo and Lepoqo was Letlama.”
“That my son is who you are. Who you will become, though, that’s all up to you.” Leihlo listened attentively, as he has always when an elder began to speak. “How did I come across the oracle?”
“First of all, my dear boy, you will have to be initiated…!” The shepherd sucked his teeth, and instantly apologized for his insolence, all herdboys had been initiated in Mankeng, his village. What sort of a man would he be?
“That is not what I mean, son of Kali. All living things must be initiated through struggle and pain.” The butterfly struggles to burst out its cocoon, the seedling must fight its way out the hard seed casing. Such is life my boy,” she seemed to smirk at him as she said this.
Leihlo had entered the old lady’s hut, from the outside, it seemed dilapidated, with dry grass used to thatch the rood. The windows looked very small and they were blackened by what he believed to be smog. Inside, was a different story though, the elegance of which I shall tell of in another day.
“Don’t ever expect life to be easy,” she slapped his hand with a wooden spoon, realising he was distracted by the grandeur inside her house and confused by its contradiction. “Looks can be deceiving,” she said flatly. “Appreciate outside beauty, but also seek within.”
“Nkhono (elder),” Leihlo interrupted, stealing a glance at the old woman’s face. He could clearly see that she was old, she carried a long carved wooden cane, for a walking stick, her hair was fluffy and all white, with a silvery tinge to it if you looked close. But still, there was a youthful vibrancy to her, and her face radiated beauty, even in old age.
“Life maybe hard, but it still is a gift to be appreciated,” the seer said, almost intuitively, and too coincidental for Leihlo’s liking. “Therefore look after yourself, mind, body and spirit,” she continued, “Exercise your mind and body regularly and exercise your spirit by being a source of love.”
“Now my son, it’s time for you to leave,” she said abruptly, for a minute leaving Leihlo stunned, but he recovered quickly enough. “Why, Nkhono?” he asked. “Does this mean I’ve learned all that I need to know!?”
“Heck no!” the old woman exclaimed, much to her own delight. “Life is to be lived and experienced and not to be figured out. These are just my pearls of wisdom to you, to thank you for lipabi earlier.”
“Now, I have to sleep, it’s not by my mistake that I look this young and classy,” she finished, with a cheeky grin on her face.
As Leihlo readied Thabure to head back home, he carefully stroked his mane and whispered in his good ear, “Today has been an eventful day my friend.”
The sun was lazily setting low on the horizon preparing to slumber, and the last rays of sunlight almost set an orange tint from afar. Leihlo smiled to himself as he thought, “Dawn and Dusk, two sides of the same coin indeed.”